When I first moved to Brno from London, part of the settling in process was to find the local football team. Boby Brno was the name of the team back in those days (It has since changed 5 times) and at the time they were top of the league and drawing in crowds of 30,000 plus…playing entertaining football, so it was an easy decision to make.
They didn’t win the league that season, but they did qualify for Europe and me and Boby Brno were in a relationship. I bought a scarf to confirm my commitment to the club.
That was over 15 years ago and like most of my relationships, they don’t last. I have tried, honestly I have tried, but in the last 5 years, I can’t recall a time when we’ve enjoyed each other’s company. Now, what I write is only my side of the story – but my belief is that the players no longer share the same love I have for the game. An example of this was a game this season ( I can’t even recall the team), but the score was 0-0 on 73 minutes and a old friend turned to me and said nothing had happened, no goal opportunities, no moments to get the crowd going and that was it for me,I haven’t been back since. I don’t think the players care. Football is not just about results, boys. You have disconnected me from a team I had a genuine fondness for..You need a reality check. er…you bastards.
Back in 2011, a friend invited me to see FK Blansko, who were playing in the 5 tier of the Czech leagues. I am pretty sure they lost that day, but it was a brilliant day and I was in love again. They may have not won, but what I saw was 22 footballers playing just because they enjoy playing the game, just like I would if I wasn’t so overweight and old. The standard was not high, but unlike Zbrojovka, the players wanted to win, they wanted to entertain…Everybody involved in the club from the stewards and fans to the players and management were there because they wanted to be there. I was hooked.
The following season, the club managed to retain the core of team and won promotion to Divize. In The Czech Republic winning the league doesn’t necessarily mean you accept promotion to a higher league. The costs of going up are around 400,000kc and clubs need a generous donation to survive (this season 4 clubs turned down promotion due to the increase in running costs). Blansko found the money, brought in a couple of new players and finished in to top half of the table,. This also brought interest from clubs in the leagues above. Jan Trtilek, David Juran have both been on trial with professional clubs and in our first season in the 4th tier we lost Jan Koudelka (nicknamed Goldelka) to Prostejov – he could easily be playing in the top flight, we rated him that highly. The club have replaced well and we are still in the same league 3 years later.
What makes us feel the Blansko love the most is we’ve become familiar faces at games, a shake of the hand and a hello is the usual welcome when we show up at a home or away. We have been invited into the dressing room to drink celebratory shots of slivovice with the players and also we’ve been asked to take over drum duties when Big Pavel Snr is working the tannoy. Even with commitments away from the game, we all want to go and see as many games as we can…
Saturday was a new high for us. 5 of us travelled from different parts of Moravia to see Blansko play their final game of the autumn season at FK Přerov. Three of us got earlier trains up to visit the two breweries in the town and we were not disappointed – the first the Parník microbrewery opened up for us at 11.00 and served a delightful 11 degree beer. The second brewery, Zubr, is fairly well known and more importantly for us on the way to the ground..rude not to pop in for one..which we did. Přerov is not the most beautiful place in the world, but if you ever in the town, we can highly recommend a visit to Parník.
Usually, this is the part where we tell you a bit about the game, but instead we will direct you here and you can watch it yourselves. We won 3-1 and it was some performance.
Our enjoyment came from seeing the players welcome the support. Big Pavel wasn’t around to bang his drum, so it was left to us to show the players we were here, Crowded House would have been…er..proud.. Halfway through the first half and 2-0 up, Petr Švancara gave the thumbs up, while taking on two Přerov defenders. At half-time the players came over to say “thank you” on their way to the dressing room. Isn’t this how football used to be?
Midway through the second half, Blansko added to their lead through prolific midfielder Premed Fousek who is in rich vein of goalscoring form at the moment…a third assist for Švancara to add to a magnificent performance from the beer-bellied Czech Maradona. He even began to show off a bit, dancing on the half-way line as we sang his name. But that’s him in a nutshell, he’s a performer and he likes us all to know it. He’s there to perform and when he’s not producing a bit of magic on the pitch, he’s making us all laugh. Thanks, Petr.
Přerov did score an excellent consolation goal, which deservedly got applause from all of us. A sweet strike from the edge of the box, leaving David Juran with no chance…
On 89 minutes the ref blew the final whistle (has anybody ever told them that it’s a 90 minute game) and the players celebrated before making their way towards us to applaud the support. Michael Kugler gave us a fist pump.
For us, though the fun was just about to start, we gatecrashed Švancara’s post-match interview for a photo, which we think he enjoyed. Two of us made it down the tunnel with him to congratulate not only the newly appointed assistant manager Robin Buchta, but also star striker Honza Trtilek. Happy to join in the merriment, they both invited us to the players party in Blansko later that evening. Boys, we’ve been there before and it’s probably best left in the changing room.
However, in the Přerov club bar, the owner of the club and the manager sent over food and drink and the players once again said thank you.
People who know us, know how much we love football and seeing the jubilation on the faces of all connected to the club is just one of the best reasons I can give you for following non-league football in Czech Republic.